Best Bites is a roundup of the outstanding dishes we had within the last month, those which renewed our love for established venues, caught our attention at a new opening, or impressed on us again the creativity and skill of Hong Kong’s talented chefs. From casual street bites to meticulously prepared tasting menu dishes, these are the plates we’d recommend you make a special trip for.

 

Nhau

The dish: Hamachi bowl

Chef Que Vinh Dang is back on the Hong Kong scene with contemporary Vietnamese eatery Nhau, tucked away in a quiet corner of Central. Dang is well known for his ability to wield Vietnamese ingredients in a daring yet refined approach to classic dishes, and I knew from my first bite of the hamachi bowl (HK$180) that this was going to be a special meal. The dish was innovative yet familiar at once: the multi-textured components ranging from fish sauce-slicked rice noodles to crunchy pickles, soft marinated hamachi, and a turmeric batter meant to resemble fish roe scattered over the top for colour and crunch. The dish set the tone for the rest of the meal, which didn’t disappoint — stay tuned for our full review. —Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor

Nhau, 12 Circular Pathway, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3612 4568

 

Tenmasa

The dish: A5 Kagoshima Wagyu tenderloin with Hokkaido sea urchin

Over the years, Macau has become a gastronomic paradise, with a smattering of fine dining restaurants and Michelin darlings embedded amongst the warren of high-end resorts and casinos. Inside Altira, Tenmasa caters to sushi and tempura lovers — the Macau branch of the celebrity-frequented Tokyo original which opened in 1936. Recently, I enjoyed a few of Tenmasa’s signature dishes in a celebration of Altira Macau’s 10th year of achieving 5 stars from Forbes Travel Guide.

Our group sat around the horseshoe-shaped counter in one of Tenmasa’s intimate private dining rooms, admiring the light sizzle of the copper-domed tempura fryer as our chef expertly and meticulously served up pieces of tempura fish and seafood. It wasn’t hard to pick my favourite dish: while fried Wagyu beef might sound overly heavy, the combo was executed immaculately here, the fatty beef encased in a light and airy tempura batter (a result of cottonseed oil in the mix), and counteracted by the creamy brininess of fresh Hokkaido sea urchin. The squeeze of citrus on the side was unnecessary, with the daub of wasabi providing all the necessary seasoning to tie the dish together. —LY

Tenmasa, 11/F, Altira Macau, Avenida de Kwong Tung, Taipa, Macau, +853 2886 8868

 

Ignis by Linx

The dish: Mushroom with confit egg yolk
Combined nightclub-and-restaurant concepts usually get a bad rap for their food, but the recent opening of Ignis by Linx proved otherwise with its sophisticated take on crowd-pleasing flavours. Choosing from a menu of many delightful items (including a sinfully delicious chocolate tart for dessert), I find myself most craving the mushroom dish with confit egg yolk (HK$108). With skills honed at Bo Innovation, chef Mark Sin displays solid technique in this heady melange of morels and king mushrooms, both sautéed and crisped for added texture. Resting on a bed of potato purée, the mushrooms create a nest for the luscious confit yolk, which is perfectly seasoned and drizzled with a touch of truffle oil for a dreamy umami bomb when you mix everything together. –Evelyn Lok, Associate Editor
Ignis by Linx, 1 & 2/F, California Tower, 30-32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2623 0298

 

Estiatorio Keia

The dish: Grilled calamari

I often find grilled squid to be rubbery, chewy and dense, and therefore don’t order it often, but I have to say the calamari (HK$288) at Estiatorio Keia was a revelation. Keia prides itself on serving fresh seafood from the Mediterranean in simple ways to let the ingredients shine, and this dish exemplifies their culinary MO to a tee. The calamari gets a turn on fiery hot grates until it develops dark grill marks, before being doused in a shower of citrus, olive oil and fresh herbs. The tangy vinaigrette plays perfectly against the smoky aroma of the squid, which becomes almost steak-like in its hearty texture and deep flavour. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a squid dish this much, and it’s enough on its own to warrant many return visits to Keia. —LY

Estiatorio Keia, 2/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2677 7737

 

Buenos Aires Polo Club

The dish: Argentinian steak

I tend to gravitate towards seafood over meat, but a recent tasting at Buenos Aires Polo Club reminded me of the deeply pleasurable and primal joys of tucking into a giant slab of steak. Executive Chef Angie Ford is newly onboard at the Argentinian steakhouse, and she gave us an insightful crash course on the comparative differences in temperature, texture and cooking methods of BAPC’s prime cuts of steak — from ribeye to tenderloin to sirloin — each paired with masterful wine selections from the house sommelier. Cooked to a decadent medium rare (with the exception of the tenderloin, which is best served rare, says Ford), the steaks were full of the deeply rich bovine flavour attributed to the prized grass-fed cows which roam the Pampas plains in Argentina. A spice seasoning and heartily seared crust courtesy of the authentic parrilla grill in the kitchen locks in all of the flavour, rendering the side sauces unnecessary. —LY

Buenos Aires Polo Club, 7/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2321 8681

 

Paste (Pop-up at Tate Dining Room)

The dish: Smoky southern yellow curry with Chilean cod

Perhaps it’s not fair to include an international restaurant on this list, but chef Bee Satongun’s curry made such an impression on me that I’d be remiss not to name it as one of my Best Bites this month. After all, this column is all about introducing dishes worth “making a special trip for” and in all honesty, this curry alone is worth a plane ticket to Bangkok. At Satongun’s restaurant, Paste, this yellow curry has become her signature dish and for good reason: It raids the entirety of the herbs and spices pantry to deliver a curry that’s so intense, complex, multi-layered and teeming with flavour that everything else pales in comparison. The buttery cod and fragrant pot of rice on the side serve as vehicles to mop up every last bit of sauce.

As one of many outstanding dishes at the Asia’s Female Chefs Collaboration Lunch (with chefs Vicky Lau, Bee Satongun, Margarita Fores and Natsuko Shoji), I was glad that this dish came last — if only to have that powerful smack of flavour linger on my taste buds long after the meal was over. If you find yourself in Bangkok, I’d highly recommend making a booking at Paste, or keep your eyes peeled for the next time chef Satongun stops by Hong Kong for a pop-up collaboration. —LY

Paste, 999 Phloen Chit Rd, Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand, Hong Kong, +66 2 656 1003

 

Arcane

The dish: Braised oxtail tortellini

Hot off making it all the way to the final four on the hit Netflix show Chef’s Table, chef Shane Osborn is back in the kitchen on On Lan Street — his keen eye on the pass at Arcane as the kitchen presents its new seasonal menu. Osborn’s immaculate technique and intelligent palate were brought to global attention on the show, and luckily Hongkongers don’t have to travel far to sample his world-class cooking. Arcane’s seasonal menu is packed with stunning dishes, but his oxtail tortellini (HK$268 à la carte) is forever a crowd favourite. It’s the platonic ideal of perfect pasta: The delicate sunshine-yellow fresh pasta sheets formed into quaint navel-shaped rounds, with floppy ridges to catch the mix of soft lentils, diced carrots and meaty sausage bits. The pasta pillows hold a sumptuous mixture of braised oxtail, while a flurry of black truffle on top caps off the element of decadence. —LY

Arcane, 3/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2728 0178

Leslie Yeh
Editor in Chief
Having worked as a lifestyle editor for almost 10 years, Leslie is thrilled to be writing about the topic she loves most: wining and dining. When she's not out pounding the pavement for the latest new restaurant opening or tracking food trends, Leslie can be found at home whipping up a plate of rigatoni vodka and binge-watching Netflix with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand.